Brand New Day
Verona, ITArena

A gentleman in Verona...

During the sound check Sting sat next to Jason and, keeping a sheet with the lyrics in his hand, he performed a song which I actually don't know, anyway I would regard it as a classic, one of his songs in which his voice sounds more beautiful than ever. Then it was the turn of 'All This Time', followed by 'A Thousand Years', a part of 'Fill Her Up', 'Bring on the Night' and the magic 'Desert Rose'. During the sound check Sting also called Robert Gligorov to join him on stage, where they said hello and were very friendly to each other. For those who don't know it, Robert is an artist considered to be Sting's double, although I think the two, who were almost indistinguishable more than 10 years ago, look very different now.

Although the concert had been announced for 9.00pm, it didn't start until after 9.30pm. If on the one hand this let darkness come and steal every ray of light that had been left in the cloudy sky, on the other hand the mercury was falling and I was longing for Sting to come and warm me up. At last the magic tune of 'A Thousand Years' could be heard and the concert started (this track had been left out at the previous night's concert in Florence). Sting, who looked suntanned and very blonde, was wearing a dark vest, a beige, short-sleeved shirt, a pair of trousers of the same colour and a leather jacket, which he removed just before 'If You Love Somebody'. When it began, I expected the audience to get to their feet, but they all seemed to be glued to their seats and, in spite of Sting singing ''stand up all you lovers in the, world, stand up and be counted', they remained seated throughout the concert, apart from a small group of people who stood up for 'Every Breath'. Anyway I danced during lots of tracks (many thanks to the people in the 2d row, who didn't complain!).

The concert continued with 'After the Rain' linked to 'We'll Be Together' and with 'Perfect Love', during which, as everyone of us knows, Chris plays an important role. After old favourites such 'All This Time', 'Mad About You' and 'Seven Days', it was the turn of 'Fill Her Up', which I think sounds better live. The next track was another Sting classic: the romantic 'Fields Of Gold', which sounds even more beautiful thanks to Dominic's guitar. The first of the few Police songs performed during the concert came in the middle of the show. It was 'Every Little Thing', during which I kept jumping in front of the stage holding up my mobile phone, so that a friend could enjoy it as much as I did. This rhythmical song was followed by a more relaxed, enchanting 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', which was much changed both from the original version and from that of the 'Bring On The Night Live'.

Another new track, 'Tomorrow We'll See', followed which ended with Sting holding a loooong note on ''one more night I'll just have to take my chances'' and with the audience catching their breath and wondering ''How long can he still hold out?'' (believe it or not, 15 seconds!) After 'Englishman In New York', which is my personal highlight of every Sting show, 'Brand New Day' started. What I also particularly enjoyed was Roxanne, less powerful but much more fascinating and sensuous than usual. But even more involving was 'Desert Rose', when Sting was joined on stage by the great Cheb Mami. Soon after this track the riff of 'Bring On The Night' started, and the Police fans got carried away. Just at the link with 'When The World', which also saw Jason playing a great solo, the curtain at the back of the stage fell down and showed a beautiful red curtain.

The concert was already drawing to its close: the musicians left the stage and returned for the first encore, which began with 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You'. Well, if you asked me what part of the show (if any) let me down, I would say just the first part of this song: how could he start without the beautiful crescendo, as it had been performed during the 'Mercury Falling' Tour? Anyway, if this was the only 'weak' point of the show it's not worth considering. The old times returned with 'Every Breath You Take', but unlike, the concert in Milan 'Message In A Bottle', wasn't performed, which wouldn't have been too bad if it had been replaced by the powerful 'Lithium Sunset', but... it wasn't. As usual, the concert ended with 'Fragile', but unusually, Sting didn't run away just after the last note and let the audience cheer and clap. Before leaving the stage, Sting and all the musicians bowed three times, and only then did I notice that Kipper was walking on crutches. Sting then said goodbye ''Arriverderci, ciao a tutti!''. Arrivederci Sting, torna presto. But you're always gone too long anytime you go away...

(c) Annamaria Dall'anese for

Fifteen thousand fans in Verona on a cold and rainy day...

Fifteen thousand fans in Verona on a cold and rainy day for the British star Sting's last Italian show in the 'Brand New Day' tour, preceded by Niccolo Fabi's performance - Sting, a Lord of the Full Arena - Also the Franco-Algerian Cheb Mami on stage for a stirring 'Desert Rose'.

It's the Sting you're waiting for who mounts the stage of the Verona Arena which Niccolo Fabi has just left behind. It's the Sting of the fine music and fine sonorities who plays and sings, searching for perfection in a low-key and unostentatious way in front of the fifteen thousand in attendance.

The summer is wary of having come too soon and celebrates the return of the rock season among the ancient stones with a squall of rain and chill wind. Fleecies, windcheaters and raincoats come out of mothballs, while an improvident few still circulated in low-necked singlets, daring fate.

Sting arrives on stage bundled up in a track jacket, but evidently the music warms him up quickly and the jacket whips off. The framework of the concert is the one already established at the first date in January, a well-studied mix of selections from the latest album 'Brand New Day' with tastes of quality from the back catalogue, with some notable omissions, and a dusting-off of Police hits.

The most important variation is perhaps in the arrangement of 'Roxanne', repolished after George Michael's version of it. Could the raw guitar, scratching and a little proto-punk, hold out against Sting's jazz impulses?
Assuredly no, and then here is Dominic Miller to soften the tones and relate again the most famous ballad of the Police, dedicated to a penitent prostitute, along the lines of his usual style.

The rhythms of the concert are driving enough, and the show basic but elegant in terms of stage setting, with projections of luminous designs on enormous fans which open up in front of the backdrop and an effective rendering of ambience for 'Moon Over Bourbon Street', with four glowing balls suspended to give the sense of the moon and street lamps.

But the most effective moment above all is when the Franco-Algerian singer Cheb Mami unites with the band to add his voice to 'Desert Rose' in the midst of a flaming artificial bonfire and the fifteen thousand who join in the chorus.

The band is first-rate, with the percussionist Manu Katche who also takes on a rapper role, Jason Rebello on keyboards, Marc Eldridge on synth, Christopher Botti on trumpet, together with Miller and occasional contributions by a percussionist and the vocalist Russ Irwin.

The public heats up with the music and goes along with the audience participation (also to warm up) and at the end, after an excellent 'Every Breath You Take' to open the encores, like a young lord the English musician bows and extends his thanks, after seemingly having given his clothes a good wash in the Arne. His Italian, after the time spent at his estate in Tuscany, is limited but correct in the end.

(c) Il Gazettino by Gio Alajmo/translated by Diane Villani